Press Release: Statement of the IMF First Deputy Managing Director Anne O. Krueger at the Conclusion of a Visit to the Maldives

January 20, 2005

Statement of the IMF First Deputy Managing Director Anne O. Krueger at the Conclusion of a Visit to the Maldives

Ms. Anne O. Krueger, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today at the conclusion of her visit to the Maldives.

"On behalf of the International Monetary Fund I want to express our sincere condolences to the people of the Maldives. Around the world people have been horrified by the scale of the destruction caused in many Asian countries by the tsunami. For the Maldives this is truly a national catastrophe.

"I came here today to get a first hand impression of the extent of the damage. I also wanted to get a sense of the challenges that the government and the citizens of the beautiful islands now face-and to see how we at the Fund might assist.

"Apart from the tragic loss of life, thousands of people have lost not just their homes but in some cases their livelihoods. Many have been forced to leave, at least temporarily, the island that is their home.

"I met with President Maumoon Abdul Gayoum earlier today, and with Finance Minister Mohamed Jaleel and other ministers and officials involved in the recovery effort. I later visited some of the worst affected islands and met with some of those displaced from their homes.

"I wish my first visit here could have taken place in happier circumstances. But I have been heartened by the courage and unity of the people of the Maldives. Neighbors have opened up their homes to those in need of shelter. People have rushed to help each other.

"I am also greatly impressed with the speed and efficiency of the relief effort. The government moved swiftly to respond to the most urgent humanitarian needs. It has also worked quickly to start preparing detailed assessments of the longer term needs.

"The government is currently considering how to respond to the daunting challenges of re-housing people and reconstructing buildings and infrastructure. This is an especially formidable task because of the geographical spread of the Maldives and the affected islands.

"The government also made clear to me its concern to carry out the recovery effort without undermining the laudable progress it has made in macroeconomic policy in recent years. It will be important to move as quickly as possible to help the homeless and undertake reconstruction. At the same time it will be important to avoid generating bottlenecks that could in fact slow down delivery of rehabilitation and risk macroeconomic instability. At the government's request, an IMF team is already here, helping with the macroeconomic assessment.

"As the recovery effort moves forward, the IMF stands ready to help in whatever way might be appropriate, subject of course to the government's views on the best way to proceed. The government is currently considering whether to request emergency financial assistance from the Fund, which would not require an IMF program. Should such a request be made, we would aim to respond to it as expeditiously as possible."


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